Nyet neutrality activists making big mistake defending Internet socialism

Save the Internet campaign director Tim Karr in Huffington Post and columnist John Dvorak in PC Magazine are making a strategic blunder in their latest posts in responding to Andy Kessler's Wall Street Journal op ed "Internet Wrecking Ball" in bringing the net neutrality discussion back to a political philosophy discussion about whether the Internet should continue be a free market or whether Government should effectively "socialize" the Internet with net neutrality economic regulation and a implementation of an "information commons" agenda. 

  • Tim Karr's post "Telcos turn to Stalin for help against net neutrality" railed against my thinking in responding to Larry Lessig's FT editorial promoting net neutrality.
    • Unlike Mr. Karr and many other ardent net neutrality supporters, I have valid first hand life and professional experience with Soviet socialism/communism and its stark differences from free market capitalism.
      • I lived for a summer in a Soviet satellite state, Poland, during martial law, where I worked on my Masters Thesis. I lost 16 pounds in the ten weeks there, because food was meager and rationed. I remember we would have to shake the pollution dust off of our "washed" clothes that we hung on the railing to dry. I remember the five of us would eat in shifts as we only had one small fry pan and a small tea kettle to cook with. I remember well that to keep the cold out we had to stuff clothes between the 2 inch gap between the window and the building frame because of the nonexistent building quality control. I remember well the phrase the Poles would often say: "the party pretends to pay us so we pretend to work." I most remember having to apply for a visa to LEAVE the country. I know a thing or two about Soviet "socialism" in the real world and it was bad, really bad. I wish it on no one, ever.
      • Professionally, I served in Bush I as a Senior Policy Advisor in the U.S. State Department, and was acknowedged in a footnote in former Secretary of State James A. Baker III book "The Politics of Diplomacy," for my assistance with others in helping pass authorization of The Freedom Support Act -- foreign assistance for the fledgling former Soviet republics. I also was awarded a State Department Superior Honor award for my briefing assistance to Secretary Baker on matters including The Freedom Support Act, and the CFS, and START treaties. 
    • So when I talk about the difference between free markets and socialism/communism, it is informed with personal and substantive professional experience. 
      • Just because a couple of bloggers bogusly raise the issue of "red-baiting" or "playing the red card" is not going to keep me from the legitimate policy, political and philosophical discussion of the moral, economic, political, and practical superiority of free markets over socialism/communism/collectivism. 
      • Please excuse this long but relevant personal introduction before I blast away again at the bogus and misleading premises behind the net neutrality movement. 

First, just like the Soviet socialists the net neutrality movement blatantly misrepresents the facts, repeatedly stating the unsupported assertion that the Internet was always neutral. The term net neutrality wasn't even coined until 2002 by Professor Tim Wu.  I systematically debunk the "Net is nuetral myth" in this one-pager. Any honest representation of the Internet would acknowledge it has a history of de-regulation, not regulation. Net neutrality proponents would like people to forget that the Internet did not reach the "masses" until it was "freed" from government control, and privatized in the 1992-95 time period. Net neutrality proponents also ignore that it was only then monopoly-copper technology that had a net neutrality nondiscrimination obligation and that cable modem technology and wireless technology did not have that regulatory obligation when the Internet was privatized. Net neutrality proponents do not believe in competition or free markets, but in government mandates. They ignore that the Internet is the greatest de-regulation success story of all time.  

Second, in George Orwellian terms fitting of his classic book, Animal Farm, net neutrality proponents have the gall to call their unwarranted, preemptive, coercive, economic regulation of private property and free enterprise -- Internet freedom! The Soviet socialists were masters at this type of outrageous doublespeak. The latest net neutrality bill by House Chairman Ed Markey has struck the now less popular term "net neutrality" completely from the legislation and now calls it the "Internet Freedom Preservation Act of 2008." Any true lover of freedom knows that it is the state, not competitive companies, or individuals which are the biggest threats to individual liberty.

Third, if you want to get a better handle on the socialist thinking behind the net neutrality movement look no further than their working guidebook: "Saving the Information Commons" written in May of 2002, and which used to be prominently displayed by the sponsors/authors of this commons manifesto -- The New America Foundation and Public Knowledge, but surprise surprise, they apparently now have removed it from the "open" Internet in an unseemly act of censorship and cover-up. You can still "google" it but alas it is no longer an "open" link.  In classic Soviet socialist style, are the authors trying to erase "public access" to the "Saving the Information Commons," because it quite clearly shows a plan that assaults a free market, property ownership Internet and digital economy? This commons manifesto should have been called "The 'Open' Road to Serfdom" as it is the Internet age equivalent of what free market great F.A. Hayek feared and described in his free market classic: "The Road to Serfdom." If net neutrality proponents truly believe in openness and democracy, why do they fear an open and free discussion of their ideas, beliefs and plans? Could it be that like the Soviet socialists, they only want discussion of what they want people to discuss, not what a free marketplace of ideas would want to talk about... Freedom and free speech are pesky things for those who want to hide their true beliefs and public policy agenda.

Bottomline: With freedom comes responsibility to protect freedom from those who seek to take it away. I am not going to shy away from calling a socialist idea a socialist idea when I see it just because those in the socialist movement want to spin or hide their true agenda.

  • Let me make a bold prediction. Mr. Karr and Mr Dvorak will eventually read this post, but they are unlikely to engage in an open detailed debate on the Internet on these issues.
  • They don't want people to hear both sides because they know, like the New America foundation and Public Knowledge know that their ideas and agenda cannot withstand free and open public scrutiny.